For all the signs that point to Picurís, from every possible surrounding highway, you would imagine it’s a glittery tourist extravaganza. In fact, as one of the few Rio Grande pueblos that has not built a casino, Picurís Pueblo instead capitalizes on its beautiful natural setting, a lush valley where bison roam and aspen leaves rustle. You can picnic here or fish in small but well-stocked Tu-Tah Lake.
After the San Lorenzo de Picurís Church collapsed because of water damage in 1989, pueblo members rebuilt it by hand, following exactly the form of the original 1776 design—a process that took eight years. A museum tells the history of the pueblo, the smallest in New Mexico, with only a few hundred members, and along with Taos Pueblo, the only Tiwa-speakers.
As at Nambé, local traditions have melded with those of the surrounding villages; the Hispano-Indian Matachines dances are well attended on Christmas Eve.
Start at the visitors center (575/587-1099 or 575/587-1071, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) to pick up maps and perhaps hire a tour guide.
The pueblo is a short detour from the high road proper: Just past Peñasco, turn left (west) from Highway 76 onto a well-marked access road, which leads to the pueblo in a few miles.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition